I had not taken part in a swap in a very long time, so when I spotted the call for sign-ups for the #petitepatchworkswap, I put my hand up even though the sensible side of my brain knew that my time is limited and I should not. The swap organiser, @jasminesews, asked everyone to make a pouch and a small placemat or large coaster – small and manageable, I thought.

I know some people avoid swaps like the plague, but I genuinely enjoy them. I like the challenge of making something small for someone else and playing with techniques that my everyday sewing might not allow.

My swap recipient was Kristy (@monkeymai26), and in her Instagram feed, I saw that she too admired the sewing illustrations of Minki Kim. That was a starting point.

In my New Year clean-out of my sewing room, I had rediscovered a packet of vintage embroidery transfers that were once my great-grandmother’s. They are old, but I am not sure how old. The two things in the parcel that are dated are The Safety-Curtain, a complete novel by Ethel M Dell, which is from 1916, and a Beehive Tapestry Wools / Stitchcraft free transfer, which is dated 1953.

Also during my sewing room clean-out, I neatly folded my Liberty stash. It might seem a bit clean-freak to some, but I love how I can now see everything I have, and it all fits into one drawer instead of two, freeing up the second drawer for something else. I have since got carried away and tidied my undies, scarves and sock drawers too.

Liberty stash

Having neatly folded my Liberty stash earlier this year (yes, blame Marie Kondo), I found it really easy to see the fabrics I wanted.

Swap inspiration

I started thinking about what I could do with Nanna’s embroidery transfers and my Liberty scraps.

All of these elements – the sewn illustrations, the embroidery transfers and my neat Liberty stash – came together to inspire this.

Patchwork pouch and mat

The swap guidelines said that at least one side of each piece needed to be predominantly patchwork.

Patchwork pouch and mat

The guidelines did not tell us what we had to do on the other side.

Patchwork pouch and mat

The owl design came straight from one of Nanna’s embroidery transfers. I added the extra flyaway leaf.

Patchwork pouch and mat

I hand pieced the hexagon panel, choosing pretty Liberty fabrics in reds and greens.

I am really happy with how the owl pouch turned out. There were a stupidly large number of thread ends to bury as I stopped and started short bursts of machine stitching, using Aurifil 12 weight on the top and normal thread in the bobbin, but it was worth it.

When making the pouch, I miscalculated the pouch base and cut it a little deeper than for other box pouches I have made based on Ayumi Mill’s book Patchwork Please!, but I liked the idea of extra room, so I carried on and adjusted all the other measurements to suit.

I have two tricks when lining these boxy pouches: I cut the lining pieces slightly smaller to avoid bunching inside, and I roughly machine sew the lining seam allowances to the pouch seam allowances on the inside top edges so the lining does not droop into the pouch. The lining is otherwise made as a separate piece and hand sewn around the zipper.

Patchwork pouch and mat

A pretty pouch needs a pretty lining.

I do not think I would ever use a ‘snack mat’, so I was thinking more along the lines of something to put a vase on when I sewed the mat.

The simple flower transfer I used had been cut out and used by Nanna before me. I have a tray cloth with a crocheted edge that Nanna transferred this design to and started embroidering. The needle is still attached, but very little has been stitched. I hope to one day unpick the handful of stitches she did and complete it, despite the fabric’s age. On the back of the transfer, in Nanna’s handwriting, is a note saying that she used the transfer fives times. I used a light box.

I hand quilted the mat simply from the ‘wrong’ side, using the patchwork grid to guide my lines.

Patchwork pouch and mat

A quilted mat like this could protect a tabletop from scratches.

In return, I was sent this fabulous parcel of goodies by @karynsews. The teacup mat is too cute to get dirty, so it is hanging above my sewing machine. I am using the scrappy mat as a coaster on my sewing table, and the llama (yet to be named) is perched atop and guarding my Liberty scrap bowl. I have not yet decided what to put in the pouch. What can it contain that will not obscure the fabulous lettering of ‘Make’?

The group as a whole made some lovely things, so it is worth checking out the hashtag #petitepatchworkswap if you are an Instagram user.

I have not done much other sewing in March. A problem with my eyes limited my abilities to sew anything fine and detailed or stare at a flickering computer screen, so I focused on baby knitting. March for me was all about dim lighting and audio books. The baby is now the size of an eggplant, and I have a half-finished jumper (sweater) and a baby blanket that needs a fancy border. I had better get my skates on!


10 thoughts on “Swapsies

  1. Love it all. Especially the hexies. I seem to have this thing about them lately. I hand sewed small hexies in blues and greens to make a water bottle cover for my huge 1ltr water bottle. It turned out great and I am pleased with it. I would love to make a hexie pouch of some sort. I love yours.

  2. All the pieces you made and the pieces you received are gorgeous. I’m amazed you found the time. I hope your eyes improve very soon.

  3. You’ve managed to make some beautiful pieces despite the eye problem, which I very much hope is either gone or on the mend. Your Liberty fabrics make beautiful crisp hexies, and I admire you for being able to use them; if I had a stash of them like that I’d be totally incapable of using them!
    I was due to put out a Bee, Myself & I post today, but totally ran out of energy after packing and unpacking boxes and painting the wall that runs behind the bookcases!

  4. What a beautiful post. I particularly love that you used the transfers for templates. What fun!

    Has you Dr. given you any clue as to what is going on with your eyes? Scary.

  5. I am always thrilled to see when a swap goes so wonderfully well. The transfers are fabulous and I love how you used applique to give them such definition and life. The llama does need a fun name. Liberty Llama as it is guarding your precious and beautiful stash? Maybe not quite right and I hope you have fun selecting its name. 🙂

  6. What a beautiful array of handmades, from coasters to pouches to stuffed animals! I loved reading your process of how you created your items for a swap, and thoroughly enjoyed looking at your tidy Liberty fabrics (perfect!). I also love what you received in return. I hope your eyes improve and you are able to get back to what you love doing.

  7. That owl is adorable. I often put my hand up for a swap…even though I have a ton of things on the go. But it’s so much fun!

  8. Sweet swap items at both ends there!! I love that you used something from your Nan’s stash — I hope some of my stash will be used by descendants in the future!!

I appreciate your comments and will reply by email.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.